‘Pass BBL as soon as possible’
John Unson, Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - December 31, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has renewed his appeal to Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and approve his emergency powers to address an impending energy crisis in 2015.

In a videotaped message for the New Year, the President said nothing was impossible if trust would reside in each person.

“Every year, we get closer to the fulfillment of what we have been hoping for for so long: long-term peace and vast progress in Mindanao,” he said.

Last March, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Aquino expressed hope that the proposed BBL would be passed by Congress “as soon as possible.”

After the BBL is passed, a plebiscite will be held in the areas to be covered by the new Bangsamoro government that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

However, the largest faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is worried about the possible marginalization of its Sept. 2, 1996 truce with government once the new Bangsamoro government is in place.

The 1996 government-MNLF truce was brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including petroleum-exporting nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

Former Cotabato City mayor Muslimin Sema, chairman of the most politically active MNLF faction, said while they are not opposed to the dealings with the MILF, they will be badly hurt if their now 18-year peace pact with government is overtaken and invalidated by the CAB’s implementation.

“We want to clarify that this MNLF group is not an enemy of the MILF. We are not at war with the MILF. We can never be at war with the MILF because we have the same peace and development objectives for the Bangsamoro people,” Sema said.

However, Sema said the national government and the MNLF, from which the MILF had splintered in the early 1980s, should bilaterally protect the 1996 peace accord and preserve its gains.

Aquino said it is his obligation to listen to everyone and find solutions to all problems that are acceptable and products of consensus that would be good for all.

“Let us put ourselves in the position of the other side, so there would be fair assessment of every issue and ensure that it is every Filipino’s interest that would be pushed forward,” Aquino said.

“One example is the issue on energy and the environment,” the President said, noting the need for balance in taking care of the environment while addressing the need for energy.

He said everyone must open their hearts and minds for the sake of the majority despite shortcomings.

“What is clear is that despite heated debates and intense discourse, we should not forget that every decent Filipino only has one goal: To ensure fair play, widen opportunities and improve the quality of life in the country the soonest time possible,” Aquino said in Filipino.

 

AQUINO AUTONOMOUS REGION BANGSAMORO BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT FORMER COTABATO CITY GOVERNMENT LAST MARCH MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT
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